Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts 1-5 Tranent Juniors
Ballast Bank, Inverkeithing
East of Scotland League, Premier Division.
Tranent kept up their 100% record with a convincing win over Hillfield Swifts at Ballast Bank. Goals from Kayne Paterson, Adam Watson, Ben Miller, Ali Adams and Bradley Barrett gave Tranent the points on a vile day in Fife. Sub Josh Morris grabbed a consolation goal for the hosts, but it wasn’t enough to stop Callum Elliot’s side making it six wins from six to stay top of the Premier Division.
Swifts gaffer Grant Brough named an unchanged side from the team that lost at Linlithgow last week, Macaulay Jarrett in goal, a back four of Kieran Annandale, Michael Paterson, Callum Deas and Dean Anderson. Reece Bernard, Stevie Slimmings, Ynyr Liddell, Blair Duff and Reyce Pentleton made up the five-man midfield, with Shay Brough the lone striker.
Elliot made two changes to the Tranent side, Barrett and Robert Berry coming back into the starting lineup, as the leaders went with Adams in goal, a back four of Berry, Ciaran McKenzie, Dean Whitson and Euan Grieg. Miller and Shaun Murphy were the two central midfielders, Barrett and Watson wide, with Paterson and Kyle Lander as the strike partnership.
It was a foul day in the Kingdom, but the heavy overnight rain had cleared, and the pitch had held up pretty well. As the sides kicked off, it was the high winds whipping in off the Forth that were making the conditions difficult.
Both sides struggled with the conditions in the early part of the game and there wasn’t a lot of silky soccer on show for the first quarter of an hour. Tranent’s quality gradually began to show through though and they slowly started to grips with the wind. Barrett fired couple of crosses into the danger area that Jarrett had to scramble across his goal to deal with.
The warning shots went unheeded though, and on Barrett’s third attempt, Paterson was on hand to stroke home the low cross with 20 minutes on the watch.
Swifts didn’t trouble the visitors defence too much in the first 45 and it was only set pieces that gave them any real sight of goal. A couple of corners and a Paterson free kick were the only openings that the hosts were able to create and even at that, Adams didn’t have a save to make.
It was anything but comfortable for Tranent though, the conditions making it tough going despite them having the lion’s share of the possession. Five minutes from the break, Tranent doubled their lead, Barrett again supplying the ammunition down the left, Watson this time applying the finish.
It was more of the same as the second half got underway, the gusting wind showing no sign of letting up. Swifts finally started to exert a bit of pressure on the away defence, Deas and Pentleton combining to fire in a cross that had Adams momentarily worried in the Tranent goal. Swifts made a double substitution on the hour, Bernard and Duff replaced by Gavin Smith and Josh Morris.
The switch payed off almost immediately, Morris beating the offside trap and slipping the ball past Adams to give Swifts a lifeline with his first touch of the afternoon. That was Swifts first league goal of the season and there’s nothing like a goal to give a team a lift. Suddenly the home side found a bit of belief. Pentleton, Liddell and Slimmings began testing the visitors, Swifts enjoying their best spell as it looked like they might find an equaliser.
But just as the Fifers found their feet, Mother Nature pulled the rug away again, the wind taking hold of Miller’s free-kick and whipping it into the net, leaving Jarrett flapping at thin air.
The Swifts keeper didn’t get much sympathy from his opposite number, however. Just two minutes later Ali Adams took another free kick from deep in his own half, which once again caught in the wind and flew into the net to give Tranent a 4-1 lead. A keeper scoring is a rare event, and Adams was quickly mobbed by his teammates as Jarrett was left to curse his luck at losing two wind assisted goals in as many minutes.
With 20 minutes left on the watch, it was clear the Tranent and figured out the wind advantage and anything floated into Swifts box carried a threat. The hosts would have been well advised to stop conceding free kicks, but Tranent were really piling on the pressure in the search for number five. It came on 78 minutes, Whitson’s free kick again whipped into the box for Barrett to knock home and earn himself a well-deserved goal. It could have been worse for Swifts, Tranent hitting the post and Jarrett having to come to his side’s rescue on a couple of occasions, but it finished 5-1 to the visitors.
Despite the element of fortune in a couple of their goals, Tranent ultimately had too much quality for Swifts. The visitors did a better job of coping with the conditions and were worthy winners in the end. The win keeps Elliot’s side in the driving seat at top of the Premier Division, three points ahead of LTHV, with Hill of Beath another three points further back.
The young Swifts side put up a decent fight against a team that will most likely be in the hunt for the title but were unable to trouble Tranent where really it mattered. In conditions like these, it sometimes pays to test the keeper with a speculative effort and that was something Swifts just didn’t do often enough. The defeat for Hillfield Swifts leaves them pointless at the foot of the table, with no wins and just the single goal from four games. Even this early on, it looks like it’s going to be long old season for Brough’s men. The only consolation for Swifts was that fellow strugglers Whitehill Welfare also lost at Broxburn, keeping them on nil points too, with Sauchie just a point better off.
Both these sides have away matches next weekend, with Tranent on the road to Dunbar, while for Hillfield it’s just a short drive up the B981 to Hill of Beath.
Man of the Match: On a day where wind conditions made the flight of the ball unpredictable, it needed somebody who could play it on the deck and deliver quality into the strikers.
For Tranent, that man was Bradley Barrett. It was him that got things started for his side, he was a constant thorn in the flesh to the home defence and he capped it all off with goal.
See all the match photos HERE